What is sex therapy?
A variety of ideas can come to mind when someone first hears the words, “sex therapy.”
Most people tend to either tighten up and feel uncomfortable or blossom with curiosity about the “freaky/kinky/weird” clients that I might see. And while I fully understand both responses and they are completely normal, it seems that once people truly understand what sex therapy is, they tend to soften and gain a different perspective on the overall experience.
The first thing I tell most of my clients to not only lighten the mood, but also to debunk one of the bigger myths about sex therapy is that everyone is going to keep their clothes on and
we’ll be staying on our respective sides of the room. Sex therapy is not sex surrogacy (which is
legal only in certain states in the U.S.). Instead, sex therapy is the opportunity to verbally process with a specialist the sexual difficulties you (and potentially your partner) are experiencing. It’s the opportunity to take a more in-depth approach to exploring the beliefs that culture, family, friends, church, schools, etc. have told you about sex, relationships, and intimacy, and determine how those beliefs have influenced your life to lead you where you are today (which is my therapy office). It’s an opportunity to grieve the way you may feel that your body has betrayed you (whether it’s because you feel like a freak for desiring a certain person/act, etc., because your body isn’t responding the way you’d like for it to (or because it’s responding in ways you don’t want it to), because hormones and medicine have changed your desire or response, and more. It’s a space to ask all the questions you were afraid to ask because it’s been taboo all of your life to talk about sex. It’s a space to be open and vulnerable about a topic that causes a lot of doubt, fear, discomfort, blissful joy, curiosity, tantalizing excitement, and more.
So, while some people might believe that sex therapy is only for those who are into kinky
sex or have terrible sex life, it can actually be for a wide variety of topics. I see couples and
individuals for concerns such as painful sex, low libido, sexual trauma, erectile dysfunction,
vaginismus, compulsive sexual behaviors, infidelity, questioning identity, education about sex in
general, feeling something is wrong with them because they want sex too much or too little or
feel they have strange desires/fantasies, and more.
If you come in for any of these issues (or something not listed), what can you expect from
a typical session? You can expect that for the initial session, I will take some time to get to know
who you are and what you’re coming into therapy for. We’ll just get to know one another and
determine if we are a good fit (can I help you with what you’re bringing in). You can then expect
that for the second session, we’ll review an assessment that you complete, outlining your sexual history, so we can get a full picture of how your past experiences and the beliefs you’ve been given about sex have influenced your life such that you’re now seeking help. For our third
session, we will carve out goals so that we’re on the same page regarding the work you want to do and what you’d like to accomplish in our time together. After that, you can expect that I will check in on your goals from the past week. We’ll process whatever new developments have
taken place (whether we’re celebrating a win or collaborating on how to adjust our work when
something didn’t quite pan out the way we expected it to) and begin to implement different
interventions that, based on my education and the research provided in the field, seem to be the
best fit for you. Once we feel that you have met your goals and you have no further concerns,
you are on your merry way and may just come in every once and a while for maintenance.
As you can see, sex therapy isn’t cringe worthy or altogether full of wild stories. It’s more about tapping into a part of you or your relationship that our society has difficulty processing together. It’s an opportunity to have a safe space to be fully who you are without judgement, so that you can have the most fulfilling sex and intimacy in your life that you desire.
If you would like a space to be open and vulnerable and would like to schedule an appointment with Julie, please call our office at 513-939-0300